Fifa World Cup 2026 bidding process delayed

FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke

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FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke: "Due to the situation, I think it's nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being"

The bidding process for the 2026 World Cup has been postponed amid allegations around the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke said it was "a nonsense" to begin the process in the current climate.

The vote to decide who will host the 2026 World Cup is due to take place in Kuala Lumpur in May 2017.

The United States are front-runners to stage the tournament, but Canada, Mexico and Colombia are also thought to be interested.

Russia and Qatar were selected to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups by a secret ballot of Fifa's 22 executive members in December 2010.

But Swiss prosecutors are now investigating alleged financial irregularities surrounding the bidding process. Both Russia and Qatar have denied any wrongdoing.

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Football's world governing body had planned to inform its member federations this week of the bidding schedule for 2026, but Valcke said: "Due to the situation, I think it's nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being."

Speaking in the Russian city of Samara, Valcke also defended Fifa's handling of a $10m (£6.5m) payment from the South African government towards a Caribbean diaspora legacy programme.

US prosecutors allege the payment was a bribe to help secure the 2010 World Cup for South Africa.

The South African government insists it was a legitimate payment to promote Caribbean football.

Sarah Rainsford, BBC Moscow correspondent
Jerome Valcke is clearly frustrated he's become the focus of so much speculation in this corruption probe. When I intercepted him, to ask about whether he knew of a $10m (£6.5m) suspected bribe allegedly paid by South Africa to Jack Warner, he called me "a pain" and walked away.
But at a press conference later he singled me out to respond. This was, after all, his first public engagement since the whole Fifa crisis broke. So the secretary general mounted a long and passionate self-defence.
The funds were not Fifa money, he argued, but from the local World Cup committee in South Africa. As such, he had no responsibility to track where they went. After almost 10 minutes, Jerome Valcke said he would say no more on the matter: "It's closed." But the awkward questions to him - and to Fifa - surely won't stop.

"It was not Fifa's money. It was a request from official South African authorities and the South African Football Association (SAFA). As long as it is in line with rules we do it," said Valcke.

"I don't understand what's the problem and why I am such a target in this question."

Alexei Sorokin

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Alexei Sorokin, Russia 2018 bid leader, insists that no rules were broken

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has announced he will step down from his role, amid the ongoing allegations of corruption in the governing body, including the indictment of 14 people on corruption charges by US authorities.

He is expected to be replaced at an election on 16 December.

When faced with questions over his own future, Valcke said: "You - the media - have decided that after Blatter I am the head to be cut, fine, but don't say it is because of this $10m."

Meanwhile, Uefa chief and former France international Michel Platini declined to comment further on the Fifa scandal.

Platini has previously called for change in Fifa, but speaking at a news conference to mark a year until the start of the European Championship, which France is hosting, he said it was "not the time nor the place" to discuss Fifa matters.

"I do not want the news about Fifa to get in the way of news about Uefa," he said, adding he would "address these matters" as well as speculation he could stand for Fifa president at some point in the future.

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